January 17, 2013

Slippery roads send several to central Maine hospitals

Bus accident injures three in Skowhegan; temperatures to plunge

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Not a lot of snow fell across the region Wednesday, but traffic accidents on the slick roads injured several people, including three involved in a school bus accident in Skowhegan.

The three were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. In other storm-related accidents, two people in Waterville and another person in Skowhegan also were taken to area hospitals.

Somerset County communications dispatcher William Crawford said there were several accidents beginning about 8 a.m. Wednesday, but none with personal injury. Cars were reported off the road in Madison, Pittsfield, Norridgewock, Fairfield and North Anson, and on Interstate 95 in Palmyra.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office also investigated traffic accidents with no reported injuries in Jay, Kingfield and New Sharon. Police in Waterville also investigated six more noninjury accidents.

Meteorologist Michael Cempa at the National Weather Service forecast office in Gray said that as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, about 3 inches of snow had fallen in most parts of Maine.

Cempa said after the sky clears today, central Maine residents can expect a return of very cold temperatures.

“Probably you’re looking at anywhere from 5 to 15 below, without the wind,” Cempa said. “There will be some wind and that might make it feel a little bit colder, but I don’t think we’re looking at any stronger winds. Wind chills could get to minus 20.”

Friday is likely to be cold, too, with warmer temperatures predicted for the weekend, he said.

In Skowhegan, the three people were injured when a school bus and a 1995 Chevy Tahoe collided on U.S. Route 2, according to police.

Casey Rugan, 29, of Canaan, the Tahoe driver, was thrown from the vehicle upon impact and taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan for evaluation, according to Deputy Police Chief Dan Summers.

Diana Dube, 56, of Fairfield, driver of the School Administrative District 54 bus, along with a 7-year-old passenger, the only child on the bus, also were taken to the hospital for examinations, Summers said.

Summers said Rugan lost control of her vehicle because of a slippery road surface on a hill east of the intersection of East Ridge Road and Eaton Mountain Road and near Corson’s Gun Shop, spun around and slammed into the bus.

The Tahoe, totaled in the crash, had an expired inspection sticker, Summers said, and Rugan could be charged. Police impounded both vehicles, as the accident is being reconstructed.

The school bus has front-end damage. Dube, the driver, was wearing a seat belt. The bus was on the way to the Canaan Elementary School to drop off the 7-year-old.

Summers said Rugan, traveling westbound, toward Skowhegan, had a 1-year-old child in a car seat in the vehicle, and the child was uninjured.

Skowhegan police also investigated other snow-related accidents, including one on East River Road in which someone was hospitalized, and another on Madison Avenue.

“During this time of year, you have to be careful on the roads and drive a little slower,” Summers said. “You’ve got to take the road conditions into consideration. It’s not bare roads out there. It’s very slippery, and it doesn’t take much snow to make a hazard out there.”

In Waterville, a man and woman were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening when the car they were in struck a utility pole on Chase Avenue, according to police.

The 2001 Pontiac Grand Am, driven by Ryan Messer, 19, of Bingham, was going too fast for conditions when it left the road and struck a pole next to the driveway of Mount Merici School, police Sgt. Lincoln Ryder said.

Airbags deployed in the seats where Messer and his wife, Kayla Messer, 21, were sitting, Ryder said. Kayla Messer had some facial injuries that the airbag might have caused; Ryan Messer initially reported no injuries but later said he possibly had a wrist injury, according to Ryder. The car’s front end was heavily damaged.

Both were taken by Delta Ambulance to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus, he said.

In southern Maine, both southbound lanes of I-295 in Yarmouth were closed for several hours because of a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

Traffic was backed up well into Freeport as motorists used the Yarmouth exit to detour around the crash site. Trooper Douglas Cropper said the truck’s driver was Adrian Hutchinson, 35, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who was not injured.

Hundreds of motorists were caught in the huge tie-up as traffic slowed to a crawl.

Staff Writer Amy Calder contributed to this report.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
dharlow@centralmaine.com

click image to enlarge

A female occupant of this vehicle is treated by ambulance personnel after the vehicle slid off snow covered Chase Avenue in Waterville and struck a utility pole on Wednesday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

Todd Stanton backs up after attaching a chain to a vehicle that slid off Route 137 and landed in a snowbank on Hanscom Road in Benton on Wednesday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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